“In Bosnia, in school, we had this group called ‘folklore’ where we would meet about a couple times a week and we would practice the traditional Bosnian dances and then we would perform them in the traditional outfits in…ceremonies in…school or outside of school, [or] in competitions – there are competitions, even, between different teams.” – Sanida Palavra, 2017
In Bowling Green and throughout the diaspora, dance is a popular form of performance and recreation that allows Bosnian Americans to express their Bosnian identity. In Bowling Green, many people have memories of performing in KUD (kulturno umjetničko društvo) ensembles, referred to as ‘folklore groups’ in English. These folklore groups are typically formalized dance ensembles that perform Bosnian folk dances in traditional clothing. As described by Sanida Palavra:
“Dances are choreographed and performed wearing traditional clothing in an attempt to be as close as possible to how it was originally performed throughout history…In an official folklore group [the] goal is to preserve the traditional [and] the historical component[s] of Bosnian Dance.” – Sanida Palavra, 2017
Some members of Bowling Green’s Bosnian community, such as Sanida Palavra, recall performing in folklore groups as children and young adults in Bosnian.
When Bosnians began moving to Bowling Green, efforts were made to organize folklore groups so that children could continuing performing the dances as a means of learning about Bosnian history and culture. One of the folklore groups in Bowling Green was KUD Zumbuli. Izeta Dželil was a pivotal leader of KUD Zumbuli throughout the years, helping to organize performances and put together outfits.
Watch this video by Chuck Lauth of KUD Zumbuli performing at the 2009 International Festival of Bowling Green:
“The traditional dance, the most popular, I guess, is kolo, and that’s the dance where you dance in either in a circle, or a line, or double line, and everyone holds their hands….It doesn’t require much movement above the waist. It’s more about moving your feet according to certain steps.” – Sanida Palavra, 2017
Many folklore groups in Bosnia and throughout the diaspora perform a traditional dance called kolo. Generally, kolo is dance with instrumental music playing in the background. There are many variations of kolo, but the emphasis is always on the footwork. As Sanida Palavra explains:
“The main difference in different variations of kolo is the number of steps. For example, some require three steps in place, then more a step to the left and dance three steps in that place, move again, and so on. Some are two steps in place, move one, one in place, move one, then two in place again and so on.” – Sanida Palavra, 2017
“I think [in Bowling Green] people were even more excited about it just because when you’re in a different country, different culture…it’s nice to have that piece of tradition to preserve your origins….It was more fun, I think, here just because everyone’s more excited to learn even more about the tradition behind it and to learn these dances.” – Sanida Palavra, 2017
“The skirts in women’s outfits are called dimije, the scarf šamija, the blouse košulja, and the vest jelek. The man’s outfit consists of pants čakšire, the blouse košulja, and the vest jelek. Some of the details may vary from different regions, but this is what standard traditional Bosnian outfit would look like.” – Sanida Palavra, 2017
The clothing worn during KUD dance performances, which represents traditional Bosnian folk dress, is also central to the tradition. Listen to Sanida Palavra describe the clothing and and the outfit she wore as a member of a folklore group:
For more information on dress, check out our clothing section.
“I think in general any musician that comes – any singer that comes [from Bosnia] – even if they sing the pop music…during a break…they’ll have music playing for kolo….It doesn’t matter which singer comes, kolo is kind of a must.” – Sanida Palavra, 2017
While these more formalized folklore groups are one way in which Bosnians stay connected to traditional dance practices, many members of Bowling Green’s Bosnian community will informally perform traditional dances, such as kolo, during weddings, concerts featuring Bosnian musicians, and other occasions.